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Wis. SC justice at center of alleged attack says reports of conflict on court exaggerated

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Apr 5, 2013

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) -- Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser on Thursday called reports of division and conflict on the state's highest court "overblown."

"There are philosophical disagreements about great issues facing the legal community and the state and there are strong personalities, but I think talk of disagreements and disunity is in many ways overblown," Prosser told the Appleton Post-Crescent.

The justice was in Appleton, Wis., for a drug court graduation.

Prosser allegedly attacked fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley on June 13, 2011. That was the day before the state's high court released an opinion upholding Gov. Scott Walker's controversial Budget Repair Bill.

According to reports, Prosser and Bradley were arguing about the ruling in front of the other justices. When Bradley asked Prosser to leave her chambers, Prosser then allegedly grabbed her neck with both hands.

However, others have said Bradley charged Prosser and that the justice put up his hands to defend himself, coming in contact with Bradley's neck.

The conflict on the court, as a result of the incident, was an issue in this week's election.

Justice Patience Roggensack, who won reelection over challenger and Marquette University law professor Edward Fallone, told voters she can repair the damage from the fallout of the 2011 incident.

Roggensack even suggested the court send a "letter of apology" to the public in hopes of getting past it.

But Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she doubts Roggensack can repair the damage.

"If she is not able to sit on the Wisconsin Judicial Commission case against Justice Prosser because she could not be fair and impartial, how in heaven's name could she be fair and impartial sitting on her own contrived solution?" Bradley said recently.

"She's part of the problem of why it's stalled."

In November 2011, the state's Judicial Commission notified Prosser that it was investigating allegations that he physically attacked Bradley.

In a filing with the Supreme Court in March 2012, the commission said it "found probable cause" to believe that Prosser "willfully violated" the state code of judicial conduct.

In response, Prosser filed motions for recusal from every member of the state's high court.

Roggensack is among four justices, including Prosser, who have decided not to participate in a disciplinary case against him.

In February, Bradley also recused herself from the case.

Without a quorum, the court cannot move the case to a three-judge panel.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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